The south Indian state of Tamil Nadu was also hit by the massive tsunami in 2004. In under two minutes, thousands had their lives and livelihoods swept away.
Ten years later, CCTV America’s Shweta Bajaj traveled back to the coastal region and found that many of the survivors are still recovering from that day.
Indian Ocean tsunami survivors struggle 10 years laterThe south Indian state of Tamil Nadu was also hit by the massive tsunami in 2004.
What started as a normal day at Marina Beach in Chennai, the state capital of Tamil Nadu, changed in seconds when 8,008 people in Tamil Nadu died that morning.
The state’s thousand-kilometer-long coastline, once boasting some 580 fishing villages, was left in ruins.
Thousands of people lost their livelihoods and all their possessions to the 2004 Tsunami in this temple town of Mahabalipuram, India.
Vijay remembers returning that day from his early morning fishing trip as he anchored his boat and saw a wave coming. He and his wife Sarita fled with other villagers but when they returned three hours later, they found nothing was left.
“When the tsunami struck, huge waves hit the shores. The nets and boats there were all washed away. The waves also took away houses,” said Sarita.
After 10 years, Vijay says his family does not have a stable income but at times can make a maximum of 500 rupees ($8) a day doing menial work. But without additional government assistant his family survives off of the 4,000 rupees ($80) a year in disaster relief.
10 kilometers away, NGOs and other donors have helped New Namaleam rebuild from scratch.
“When 10 years back Tsunami came we hadn’t lived life like this. We lived at the beach and then we had nothing and everything was finished. For me this village has brought good life for everybody,” said Satish, a fisherman.
The scale of the devastation overwhelmed the Indian government
NGOs, like the Indian Community Welfare Organization founded by A.J. Hariharan, stepped in to fill much of the gap.
Hariharan says that despite the lessons learned from 2004, he believes the Indian government is still not prepared to face another natural disaster.
“Commitment from the government is not the same. Maybe one or two years there was some good commitment and they were able to put some training programs and talking to people, preparing people but now there is huge gap. I think before it is too late and we experience the same again we need to put everybody together and some good resources need to be invested to make sure there are prepared well when it’s struck next time,” said Hariharan.
Although tourists and fisherman have now returned, the numbers are not the same.
And so even a decade later, this coast is still marked by the scars and stories of the 2004 tsunami.
Thousands recall the deadly disaster
Survivors in Tsunami-hit areas on the coast of Thailand recalled the memories of the disaster and mourn their lost loved ones. CCTV America’s Tony Cheng reported from Baan Nam Khem of Thailand.
Thousands recall the deadly disasterSurvivors in Tsunami-hit areas on the coast of Thailand recalled the memories of the disaster and mourn their lost loved ones. CCTV America's Tony Cheng reported from Baan Nam Khem of Thailand.
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